During our Encounter Swim, after a dry-land 10-minute intro we slipped into the water and headed out where the dolphins were waiting. First, Skye paraded by the line of swimmers, so we could each gently touch her and see the texture of her skin (smooth and hard). Next, we lined up and Skye came to us, one-by-one, and let us hold on for a fast ride back to the side of the cove. After watching Skye leap in the air and rush past us a few times, we headed back to dry land.
Across the cove, another group was interacting with two dolphins. When a man in our group (who brought his family from the cruise ship docked in the harbor) said, "I want to do that!" we all stared and agreed. We watched a man who had one foot atop each swimming dolphin. It looked like he was walking on water, until the dolphins dived and he tumbled off.
The Shark ShowSwimming with dolphins is just part of the day's activities at Dolphin Cove. A group of locals leaped into a pool where sharks were circling. Each found a shark and proceeded to hold and pet it soothingly, while an announcer gave a spiel about these much-dreaded fish. (Keep in mind these sharks are well fed. And while it looked dangerous, scuba divers know that the nurse sharks being petted are the least likely to bite a human unless provoked.)
Stingray EncountersAt Dolphin Cove they have taken the stinger off some stingrays, so visitors can see them up close. A staff member holds a big stingray (without barbs) and lets visitors gently touch the stingray to see what it feels like. (Of course, they also take a picture and video, which you can buy before leaving.) Afterward, you can snorkel in this large fenced-off-area hoping to see some of the smaller stingrays that are swimming around.
Booking a Dolphin EncounterSome of the dolphins at Dolphin Cove have been rescued, others rented and yet others born in captivity. Keeping dolphins penned in is a matter of concern to many but the cove is large, so there's room to swim. At one edge, there are rocks low enough so that if dolphins wanted too they could jump over the rocks into the open sea. Some have, according to one staff member, although the dolphins also jumped back into the cove. In the wild, dolphins spend much of their time hunting for food. Here, they are fed frequently.
Visit Dolphin Cove for more information about spending a day here. There's a beach grill, a bar and shops geared for tourists onsite.
You can book a visit to Dolphin Cove and combine it with other activities such as visiting Dunn 's River Falls, or arrange for many other adventures through Viator.
More Things to Do in JamaicaStay at the all-inclusive Breezes Runaway Bay Resort where scuba diving and golf are included.
Float down Jamaica's White River in an inner tube for a cooling experience.
For a lot more information about this island in the Caribbean visit Before You Go: Jamaica Travel Guide by Robert Curley, About.com's Guide to Caribbean Travel.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with a complimentary all-inclusive visit for the purpose of reviewing these services. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.